By Claire Salinas
You may not recognize the band name Man Man immediately, but their songs have been featured on a Nike commercial, The Office, and Weeds. The band has produced five albums and they have toured the country multiple times, however lyricist and piano player Ryan Kattner, better known as Honus Honus, doesn’t “take anything for granted,” since, ”It could all be over tomorrow.”
While most bands are plotting their next marketing gimmick, Kattner is unconcerned with finding ways to keep the band’s momentum going. His plan is to ride out the wave of their music until it ends.
“I think at this point I’ve invested too much of myself into this, and fortunately I still feel like I’m riding on this music,” he told NoRipCord.com. “When I reach a point where I’m not feeling it any more I’ll step away. I almost reached that point for Life Fantastic, our last record. I just wasn’t feeling playing music anymore.”
Despite having recorded five albums, writing lyrics is still a struggle Kattner has to fight through to finish.
“Every minute of it is going to be the worst,” he said. “The thing is, when I write a record it hasn’t changed now and I don’t see it changing. I kind of forget how to write songs. So then I have to re-learn how to write songs. I don’t know what to write about or where to write from, or when I’m writing a song from what perspective.”
According to Kattner, coming up with the best lyrics possible can be as delicate as cooking the perfect souffle.
“For me the personal challenge is trying to find that balance between storytelling, contextualizing a song, sneaking in some personal confessions and being objective enough that it can apply to other people. That’s the great thing about music is the transformative quality of it. I can write a song about dealing with some bullshit in my life at the time and it’s encased in music and a vibe that gives it an entirely different feeling to someone else.”
Lyrics have always been a sensitive topic for Kattner and it wasn’t until the band’s most recent album, On Oni Pond, came out that that Kattner finally allowed the lyrics of the band’s songs to be published. “Yeah, they kind of twisted my arm to do it. I felt this record needed it. Everything that went behind the scenes making this record happen and finally I was like, fine, I’ll just throw it out there to the world. I like the mystery of having to interpret what the hell is being garbled out of my mouth. I do label the lyrics and I hate it. But it was just time to throw them out there.”
Kuttner finds his happy place on stage, where he feels like he is able to push aside all the negativity in his life.“The hour and a half, or forty minutes, like tonight when I am on stage. That’s the best that it is. It’s when I can leave all my bullshit on the side of the stage and just get it out. It’s like an exorcism. But as soon as I’m back off stage I jump right back into my body. The band has been on tour numerous times, but to Kattner the best part of being a musician is, “Just getting to meet different people, you know. That’s the best thing about it, just traveling and seeing the world, seeing the bathrooms of the world, the rest stops. I remember when we were supporting Life Fantastic and I was swimming in this freezing lake in Nova Scotia, Canada. The same day I was at the beach in LA. It was wild. It’s crazy.”
Man Man has a very different sound that not everyone can get on board with, but the band doesn’t plan on changing tunes anytime soon.
“I just hope if I stick at it, that maybe people will catch up. Music can be transformative, and I can write a song, like “Head On.” With that song, I was living in the woods and I was having all these problems with my band and I was thinking, ‘Really? It’s the fifth record and the same bullshit all over again? Why am I doing this?’ So, I write a song like that, in which I am kind of singing to myself. Your body is bitter, you don’t want to do it, people are trying to ruin you and keep you down and you’ve got to just hold on to what’s true. So I can write a song like that, but I try to do it in a way so that it can mean something different to someone else, and that’s what’s amazing about music.”
Man Man will be playing with Landlady on August 28 at Spanish Moon. The show kicks off at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15.